PATERSON, NJ – As Paterson, like communities across the US and beyond, has adjusted to life under “stay at home” orders, most residents and businesses have complied with calls to maintain social distancing as the best way to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Even Mayor Andre Sayegh, following his own diagnosis with the respiratory ailment, has been working from home.
However, to paraphrase a well known saying, there are a few bad apples spoiling the bunch.
“We know it’s difficult to stay at home,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said, adding that his decision to close local parks was one of the hardest he had to make. “We also know it’s working, we are flattening the curve. We are going to beat this enemy together by staying apart.
Asked about a review of COVID-19 enforcement actions undertaken by TAPinto Paterson, Sayegh said that “there are unfortunately some that aren’t complying, and we need them to get the message.”
Most notable in the numbers were a total of 467 warnings that have been issued since April 2. “Usually all it takes are a few words of encouragement from our COVID Enforcement Unit to get people back on the right track,” Sayegh said with another acknowledgement that “this is unchartered territory,” and that the new regulations take some getting used to.
In addition to these, 14 summonses have been issued for failure to maintain social distance, 21 for loitering in front of a business, and four for violating the park closure order.
Three businesses, Deluxe Bubbles Car Wash, Buy and Save Furniture, and Quilvio’s Bar have also received violations for remaining open despite not meeting the threshold of being classified as “essential.”
“I am profoundly grateful to our residents who have adjusted to a very trying new normal,” Sayegh said. For those that haven’t, he concluded, efforts to protect Patersonians and save live “will escalate.”
“Now, more than ever we need every man, woman, and child to adhere to the ‘One Paterson’ mentality and help us get through this health crisis so that we can emerge stronger than ever.”
While violations of the emergency orders constitute a disorderly persons offense carrying a potential sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, violators can face more serious charges including second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency for claiming to have COVID-19 and threatening to infect law enforcement officers or others by coughing, spitting, or otherwise exposing them. That charge carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.